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Fresh produce buyer seeks to offer services in local languages for easier communication with farmers

wamucii banana fresh produce john oroko

Selina Wamucii’s staff at work. Photo courtesy.

Selina Wamucii, a Kenyan social enterprise that in four years of operation has assisted over 7,000 small scale food producers access markets is now seeking to render its services in local languages as opposed to using English alone for easier communication with its contracted farmers.

In its network, farmers are required to sign in using their mobile phones via USSD, a system which captures information relating to the geographical locations of smallholder farmers, what they are producing, the various stages of progress throughout the season, harvest timelines and projections and actual volumes at harvest.

“This system engages the growers in English and we have realized that most of them in local areas are not comfortable using the language hence the need to localize our services in the local languages to curb language barrier,” said John Oroko, the co-founder and CEO of the firm.

The success of the Kenyan operation has inspired a regional scale with firm having conducted soft launches and featured smallholder produce from Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Mozambique.

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John now has his eyes trained on scaling to the rest of Africa with a target of being in every African country across East, Southern, Central and North Africa.

The company’s journey with farmers hasn’t gone unnoticed. Earlier this year Selina Wamucii was recognized by the London Stock Exchange Group which named it as a company to inspire Africa in its annual profile of Africa’s most dynamic growth businesses.

“The London Stock Exchange Group’s ‘Companies to Inspire Africa’ report showcases inspirational and entrepreneurial businesses from across the African continent. These high growth companies have the potential to transform the African economy and become tomorrow’s job creators,” David Schwimmer, the CEO of London Stock Exchange Group said while releasing the report.

To further grow reach and point more farmers to global markets,  John says he is looking at building a fluid value chain where smallholders are equipped enough to produce what markets will accept and absorb by ensuring they have  the right inputs, know how to apply them, can access timely market information and are actively adapting to  climate change.

“The Selina Way is the future of how millions of smallholder producers are going to lift themselves out of extreme poverty,” he said.

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